UK to host new lab: Ky. becomes leader in learning reform



By Brian Shlonsky

A new lab at UK looks to help transform education in Kentucky as part of a partnership for higher learning.

Kentucky, along with Maine, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, was chosen as one of the six states to lead the nation in developing transformative educational practices as part of the Chief Council of State School Officers’ Partnership for Next Generation Learning.

“Being one of only six states selected represents the hard work Kentucky has done over the last 20 years, beginning with early educational reforms,” said Mary John O’Hair, dean of the College of Education.  “Kentucky was chosen because of all the exciting things happening here, and the collaborative work from pre-school to graduate education to take pockets of innovation happening in our schools and make them work together.”

The Kentucky P20 Innovation Lab: A Partnership for Next Generation Learning being built at UK, will be the primary innovation lab in the state, collaborating with the Western Kentucky University Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. UK’s College of Education will accommodate the lab, but efforts are expected to eventually involve other Kentucky universities, school districts statewide and more of UK’s own colleges.

UK announced its commitment to spend $1.5 million over the next three years to launch the lab.

“UK can help younger kids because after doing a survey in our 17 colleges, we found that there are 180 different partnerships with schools around the state,” O’Hair said. “We want to pull those partnerships together to target issues in schools such as motivation, engaging learning, dropout rates and early childhood education.”

According to a release by the College of Education, The Partnership for Next Generation Learning is designed to help states move from their current systems to a new design for public education and influence federal policy to scale, support and sustain what works. The partnership seeks to create and scale a new system of personalized public education where every child — from early childhood through adolescence — is prepared for life, meaningful work and citizenship.

“The old design featured pockets of excellence throughout education; we now are looking to take what we know works well and help make more schools incorporate those practices,” O’Hair said.

O’Hair said UK’s undergraduate and graduate students can play a large role in developing strong early childhood education by leading the way and learning to be engaged in local schools and communities.

“University students’ knowledge, excitement and models of learning are some of the best ways to help younger students,” O’Hair said.